Subaru Canceled The WRX STI Because Regulations Change Way Too Quickly
What does it mean for the Subaru WRX STI, and the STI brand as a whole? Well, let’s just say, electrification will play a key role from here on outby Robert Moore, on
Three months into 2022 and two years into one of the hardest decades in recent memory, and here comes Subaru killing off the WRX STI with next to no explanation. In Subaru’s press release, it said that “Subaru Corporation is exploring opportunities for the next-generation Subaru WRX STI, including electrification” but also said that a next-gen STI with an ICE “will not be produced based upon the new WRX platform.” So the hints were there that the brand could be working on, say, a hybrid-powered WRX STI (or an equivalent rally-bred car) or that an electric variant of some kind could arrive sometime in the future. Now, however, we’re learning a little about why Subaru canceled the WRX STI, and it does make sense, to some extent.
Regulations Are Hard, Meeting Them Is Even Harder – Death to the Subaru WRX STI
When Subaru made the announcement on March 11, 2022 that the WRX STI would be canceled it, understandably, put a few people into shock. Some were waiting for the next-gen WRX STI to follow the new-gen WRX. Others, like myself, we just shocked that Subaru would kill off such an icon with no explanation. Well, a report from Road & Track has given us a little bit of context thanks to Subaru Corporate Communications Director, Dominick Infante. According to him, regulations are changing so fast that the WRX STI wouldn’t have a very long shelf life, and it wouldn’t make sense to put the R&D funds into something that would be offered on such a limited basis.
“If we designed [a new STI] now, it would have a very limited shelf life. The regulations are changing so quickly that it kind of wouldn’t make any sense.”
With that said, there are a number of ways things could pan out in the future. Infante was quick to tell Road & Track that the STI brand still exists, citing models like the STI E-RA Concept and the Levorg STI Sport that’s sold exclusively in the Japanese market. Subaru has been forced to place the WRX STI on hold for this generation, but this may not be the end of its story. Subaru is just now launching its first all-electric vehicle – the Subaru Solterra, which is a twin of the Toyota BZ4X, and it’s possible that Toyota and Subaru could team up in the future to build a replacement for the WRX STI. It won’t happen on the new WRX’s bones, but that’s not to say something new won’t come a year or two down the road.
Infante pointed out that compliance for a low-output car is often simpler, which means a vehicle with a shorter lifespan is more doable and easier to justify to the bean counters. So, that could mean that a standalone STI, to fill the void left by the WRX STI, could happen and still fall within the short lifespan that regulations seemingly require these days. Whether or not that car will be full electric or hybrid remains to be seen, but one thing is for sure, it won’t be a fuel-only model.
Source: Road & Track